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J Dent Hyg. 2018 Dec;92(6):16-23.

Educational Preparedness to Provide Care for Older Adults in Alternative Practice Settings: Perceptions of dental hygiene practitioners.


Purpose: Research indicates that geriatric education continues to be inadequate across the health professions and graduates are unprepared to care for the increasing numbers of older adults. The purpose of this study was to explore dental hygiene practitioners' perspectives regarding whether their dental hygiene education prepared them to treat older adults in community and institutional settings.Methods: A qualitative phenomenological study design was utilized to conduct in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of dental hygienists currently providing care for older adult patients in alternative practice settings.Results: Fifteen dental hygienists from across the U.S. working with older patients in alternative settings, met the inclusion criteria (n=15). Common themes related to dental hygiene practice emerged from the qualitative data included: adapting patient care to alternative settings; emotional toll on the practitioner; physical challenges; outcome goals for treatment; need for hands-on clinical experience in alternative settings as dental hygiene students; and working as part of an interprofessional team.Conclusion: Participants generally agreed that they were not prepared to care for dependent older adults in alternative settings as part of their dental hygiene education. Clinical experiences working with older adults in alternative settings, as part of the dental hygiene clinical curriculum, are needed to prepare graduates to care for this growing population.


alternative practice settings; dental hygiene education; geriatric dentistry; gerontology curriculum; nursing home residents

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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